skip to main content
CliftonStrengths Input Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Input Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Input
  • Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Input talents and become stronger, resulting in improved performance, organic growth and better wellbeing.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

We discover how the Input talent theme relates to your manager and your team in this Season 6 episode of Theme Thursday. When we improve teams through owning our CliftonStrengths, we improve performance. When we improve performance, that's how we get to the kind of organic growth that allows us to have stronger economies, a stronger world and better wellbeing. And great managers hold the key: As they move from boss to coach, they help team members understand who they are already and hold them accountable for being even better, maximizing the team's engagement and impact. You might even be a manager in ways you never thought of! So join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt for Season 6, as we focus on teams and managers -- including a new talent-mindfulness challenge at the end of each webcast. Strong themes, stronger teams.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Input by itself is a very outward-focused theme, because it's about being naturally attracted to ideas that happen not within their own brain, but outside of their own brain.

Maika Leibbrandt, 6:56

Input can be great listeners, because they're always trying to capture as much content as possible. They're also excellent supportive partners, because they tend to always have something tucked away that you're looking for.

Maika Leibbrandt, 15:55

Somebody with Input can bring an idea to the table that the team would not otherwise have. But the difference between Input and, say, Ideation is for somebody with Input, that idea is coming from outside.

Maika Leibbrandt, 13:37

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or at least here in the state of Nebraska -- this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on August 13, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:22

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time -- this season based on developing teams and managers with CliftonStrengths. And today's theme is Input. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. That link is actually right above me on our live page. It'll take you to a YouTube instance. Join the chat room there. Let us know where you're listening from as well. That's kind of the tradition. If you have questions after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget, subscribe to us on, on your favorite podcast app, whatever that might be. Just search "Gallup Webcasts"; you can find Theme Thursday there. And hit the Subscribe button on YouTube there. So you'll subscribe to -- whenever we publish something new, you'll get an update. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Workplace Consultant with me here at Gallup. Maika, always great to see you on Theme Thursday. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:05

Thank you! gosh, it's great to be here. How fun is it that you get to say, "At least in Nebraska." Maybe we can remember this as one of the many seasons in which I moved in the middle of it. So I'm excited to be here today. Of course, this season, we are going domain by domain. And we are getting through those Strategic Thinking themes. Today we've got two Strategic Thinking themes if you're listening live, and they're both a little bit similar. So you'll notice some of the similarities.

Maika Leibbrandt 1:06

I -- as I've been going domain by domain and really marinating in that leadership domain, I have noticed a lot of the similarities between these themes, but also a lot of the differences. And anytime you are working with teams, which is really what we're focusing on this season, I think the best question you can ask is not just, "Do we think?" "Do we execute?" "Do we influence?" But how? What is our unique flavor of how the people on our team who lead with some of these themes really get -- meet the challenges that they have before them? So today, within the Strategic Thinking Leadership Domain, we're talking about the theme of Input. And I hope by the time that we're done, you'll be able to think about how Input contributes to the 5 Truths of Strong Teams. These 5 truths are what we're going to use to really unpack how Input can contribute to the strength of your team.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:22

So let's start with the short definition. If you are looking at your CliftonStrengths 34 report and you have high Input, here are the two sentences that you'll find to define that: "You have a need to collect and archive. You may accumulate information, ideas, artifacts or even relationships." And the first truth of strong teams that we'll be using to talk about the "how" of Input is how great -- or strong teams address conflict. It's that "Conflict doesn't destroy strong teams, because strong teams focus on results."

Jim Collison 2:56

And thank goodness, like in a year like this, with a lot of conflicts, I'm sure it has brought it to teams. Input, when we think about it, this, this, this idea of collecting, archiving doesn't necessarily feel like it has results. So how does someone with high Input focus on results?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:13

Yeah, so I think about in times of conflict, Input is likely to do one of two things, maybe both, but you can think about them conceptually as two different things. First, they'll offer information that they've gathered that furthers the conversation. Or, second, they'll tap into that sort of search-and-discover mode that they have. So they think about gathering evidence, gathering information, gathering opinions and indicators that expand your team's thinking, in order to get past that conflict and into results. A focus on results specifically might be how much they can collect. So improving against our previous results means, for somebody with Input, not just that they're performing better, but that they know more, they've heard more, or they've exposed their understanding to more ideas and more angles than they had in the past.

Jim Collison 4:02

And then how do they track their progress? Because I think, yeah, you mentioned, we collect it, but where's that progress being tracked?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:09

I think about Input as collecting clues to progress. So Input is, is a lot like just an open vessel ready to be filled with information and indicators. When it comes to progress, someone with dominant Input is probably looking for how progress opens your team up in different ways. So they may see the progress in and of itself as something to collect and archive. It's another clue, another way of understanding their world.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:34

Input doesn't necessarily have a timeline to it, unlike some of our other Strategic Thinking themes, or unlike, I think, some of the more directly linked-to-progress themes that you'll find in that Executing category. It's not so much about comparing to the past or launching into the future; the best way to help someone with Input focus on progress is to see progress as the work it takes to create that next blank page or to, to get that next gig of memory. How does our team's progress lead us to new opportunities where we can collect, where we can discover, where we can understand what we would have missed if we had remained the same?

Jim Collison 5:13

Yeah. And even in teams, collecting that information for the benefit of the team and tracking its benefit, I think it's super important, right, in a, in a world, where we live today where that's getting easier and easier to be able to do that in, in kind of automated reporting. I think that's an Input's person's dream, right, to be able to show that impact?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:32

I think so. And also, I think about, you know, Jim, your comment about being able to digitize things and have greater access to things that you can collect -- whether that's information or relationships like it says in the definition, or even just artifacts -- Input, I think might think about future progress as one of the reasons that they're collecting things today.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:53

So I often talk to people with high Input who tell me, "Yeah, this might have use in the future." Or you think about how it contributes to a strong team, they're remaining open to information that might be important to their team in the future and finding more organized or, or better, more efficient ways to capture and archive more of that information. Gosh, that's, that's certainly a place that you want to position the person on your team with Input to lead.

Jim Collison 6:18

And I think it's that reminder that these things are successful talents, right? In other words, that we're collecting things for a reason to help, to improve, to increase velocity, not just keep, right. And so it's a great -- in that tracking, I think it's a great opportunity to show that value. OK, let's look at --

Maika Leibbrandt 6:35

"Increase velocity!" That was cool.

Jim Collison 6:37

Sounds pretty interesting. Let's look at, let's look at truth No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:41

No. 2: "Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization and then move forward."

Jim Collison 6:45

We often talk about the "me versus we," and Input seems like a very much a "me" exercise. But how does someone with Input focus on a larger goal rather than just the "me," and maybe more towards the "we."

Maika Leibbrandt 6:55

I think Input by itself is a very outward focused theme, because it's, it's about being naturally attracted to ideas that happen not within their own brain, but outside of their own brain. They'll do this first by thinking. They're not just going to "feel" when they, when they don't know something, like, like some of the more emotional Relationship Building themes; they'll quickly consider goals and ideas beyond their own by studying goals and ideas larger than their own.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:22

So it's common to find themes that especially intrigue people with high Input. Maybe they're especially attracted to learning about a particular subject or a certain industry. And within that, they open up the intellectual floodgates and gather as much as they can and more. So to tap into this in a way that helps your teams serve a greater good (remember this, this truth really is about not just where your mindset is, but the action you actually take), you could ask someone with Input to explore what they've archived in the past that might contribute to the organization's current goals, or a current challenge that the team or organization is facing. Don't forget, Input is both the hunter-gatherer and to the curator of what's been cultivated.

Jim Collison 8:05

Yeah. And that curation, how does that inspire them to take action then? Can you explain that a little bit more?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:10

I think the first, and maybe the most energetic, step for someone with Input is likely that gathering place -- that, that place of I can go out and find out what's already been said, or what's already been done. Or I can, you know, find artifacts that give me clues to how to better make sense of my surroundings -- to look, ask, research, study or otherwise gain existing discoveries that they don't yet own.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:33

If you give them the time or the chance to be the one doing the collecting before you ask them to act, then they're able to act really quickly and navigate what they found in order to sort to what's most relevant regarding the challenge at hand. I think you'll see somebody with Input take action in a more traditional sense, meaning they're ready to roll up their sleeves and do some work, when they feel well-informed. Or when they feel like that space in their brain that is just constantly dripping out the bottom has been filled with more information, at least when they've had a chance to just sort of roll around in the information that's at hand.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:11

Usually, it's better if they get to do some of that fact-finding themselves. I find when I coach people with high Input, it's not enough just to have a team of researchers or fact-checkers go do the gathering for them. But they really find their flow when they can have their hands -- I have this image of, like, actually touching the, the files in a library card of -- what was that? -- the Dewey Decimal System, where you can go through the actual library cards. That probably won't happen to a lot of people. But if you think about how can you flip through those -- how can you flip through the library cards yourself, intellectually, for somebody with high Input?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:52

Really, it's not just because it feeds them. It's also because they're doing it over and over again in a way that they are going to bring angles to the search or sources that they know are really fruitful that, if you just sent out a team without Input, they might other -- they might miss it.

Jim Collison 10:10

And very, very valuable to a team under the, in those circumstances. Let's look at truth No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 10:16

Thank you, Lisa, "card catalog" -- that was escaping my, my communication, but that's definitely what it is. The thing. The file. Yeah.

Jim Collison 10:25

Somebody with Input, by the way, who probably --

Maika Leibbrandt 10:27

Somebody -- maybe it was like somebody with Input's dream! "Members of strong teams" -- truth No. 3 -- "are committed to their personal lives as much as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 10:36

And what does Input look like in somebody's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:39

You know, our original definition of Input, if you go years back, it mentioned collecting and archiving physical things. I think we even talked about, like, bug or stamp collections or baseball cards. And this might be true for someone with Input. But remember, it's, it's really about success. And I'm not sure, for most bug collectors, that that is what launched them into their success.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:04

This physical manifestation, however, of the mental ability to gather, really probably shows up as someone in their personal life who collects things, especially someone who collects things because they might one day have use for themselves or for other people. They keep things for future utility. That might also mean that they're the person on your team or in your family or in your community who can find that article that they archived decades ago. They might be the first person to ask, Hey, are we getting copies of the slides? Not necessarily because they want it today, but because they know that it might serve them or others tomorrow.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:44

You might also notice that they have "go-to ways" to absorb. Maybe they're members of monthly subscription services or book clubs or art groups. Maybe they're just part of circles of people who gather information, relationships, even, even physical things. But what it is, is that they're drawn to experiences that build their collateral.

Jim Collison 12:07

What kind of questions -- and we've been asking this throughout the year -- what kind of questions could a manager use to kind of tap into this on a personal side?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:14

What is inspiring you lately? What are you reading? What are your favorite podcasts? (If you want to sign up for Gallup podcasts, get a pod catcher.) What do you love to collect? What topics interest you most lately? And who are your biggest influencers?

Jim Collison 12:34

Hmm, I like that question a lot! Let's look at truth No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:38

No. 4 is "Strong teams embrace diversity." Having a team composed of people who are all looking at issues from the same angle does not a strong team make. So we're not using CliftonStrengths to mask or to solve the entire diversity issue. But we are using this to say what do we know somebody with Input brings to the team that other people without Input simply do not?

Jim Collison 13:02

And we have a diversity of terms that we can use. What are some of those terms, Maika, that we might use for Input?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:08

Sure, the person on your team with Input might be called the librarian (who would remember the term "card catalog"!), the collector, the curator, an organizer, gatherer, archivist. They have an appetite for knowing and insatiably curious.

Jim Collison 13:27

And what is that unique perspective that Input brings for a team specifically?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:32

You know, my favorite way to understand Input is to look at Input in the context of creativity. Somebody with Input can, can bring an idea to the table that the team would not otherwise have. But the difference between Input and, say, Ideation is for somebody with Input, that idea is coming from outside. So they're bringing and gathering other perspectives into the team. Rather than creating new takes on a current challenge from their own brain, they can offer different perspectives by collecting them from what already exists outside. And I think that leads to almost a kind of grounded relevance, like they've got these roots that reach outside of the team into other places and an awareness of what's being said, what's being gathered, what's available.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:23

They challenge their team to consider more sources. They know that there's always more to understand outside of their own perspective and outside of their own team. They stretch the thinking of the team really beyond its own limitations. And this might show up in collecting specific tangible artifacts, but it might also just be about that mindset of making sense of something by starting with gathering what already exists around you.

Jim Collison 14:54

I also think during this time of dispersed work environments, right, where a lot of people were, you know, were sent home or a different work environment, it created chaos in teams of, Where do we find things now? And those folks -- who had Input on the team were -- have been collecting them all along.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:14

Even if we weren't supposed to save them on our own hard drive, somebody with Input probably did!

Jim Collison 15:19

Somebody, somebody cataloged those; somebody put those somewhere. And so the value on that team is, Hey, OK, new, new environment; I'm home. How do I get to that stuff? I've, I've actually had that problem myself, where I have had to redo all of -- a lot of my systems. And I've had to ask those folks, Where are we keeping all this stuff again? I know it's there. But where are we keeping it? So very, very valuable. Let's look at truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:44

No. 5: "Strong teams are magnets for talent." Another way to spot a strong team is to look for the teams everyone wants to be on.

Jim Collison 15:52

And what will specifically attract people to teams for that?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:55

Input can be great listeners, because they're always trying to capture as much content as possible. They're also excellent supportive partners, because they tend to always have something tucked away that you're looking for, just like you mentioned, Jim, of Hey, where do we keep this now? Chances are somebody with Input either has gathered it themselves, or they've paid attention to the pathways that they need in order to get what they're looking for. So even if you perhaps discarded it at face value because it wasn't helpful in the moment, look to somebody with Input; chances are they can help you retrace those bread crumbs.

Jim Collison 16:26

Yeah, and you say "pathways"; I also like the word "patterns," collecting those patterns. Well, how has it been done in the past? Where was, where could it have been in the past? Where might have we done this? Right? So I like that. How might you describe the gift that Input brings to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 16:40

Openness to information and ideas paired with the ability to sort and file in their mind what's most relevant right now and what might have a future use. I think, to put it pretty simply, someone with Input deepens your team's well of resources.

Jim Collison 16:58

Let's review those 5, Maika.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:59

I'm so glad that we've done these 5, because I was leading a leadership team session a week ago, 2 weeks ago. And somebody asked me, "Hey, does, you know, what's the makeup of the best team?" Because they're looking at their own team grid across the 4 Domains. And I said, you -- I was able to rattle them off. And that's rare for me. Typically, anytime I try to remember a list of any number, I forget one. But because we've done this so many times, it's so worth it. So I hope it's having that same effect for you. Because the truth of it is, strong teams are not unified by their makeup of strengths; they're unified by other things they've got going for them. And here's those 5 things: 1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work and personal lives are equally important; 4) They embrace diversity, and 5) They are magnets for talent.

Jim Collison 17:45

Yeah, we could almost spend, well, we have spent a whole season talking about that! So that's, that's pretty great. We've also been doing these talent-mindfulness exercises, been very, very popular. And so, Maika, you have another one ready for us. What do you have today?

Maika Leibbrandt 17:58

Yeah, you know, this is a practice that underscores the importance of self-reflection. Talent-mindfulness reminds us that strengths development isn't a one-time challenge. It's not even a 30-day challenge. It's about ongoing curiosity, studying what goes right, opening up yourself and those around you to the possibility that there is infinitely more to gain from understanding what's "clicking" in the moments that it's clicking, than there is fixing those moments when we're coming up short.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:29

So today's exercise seems simple. And you might notice more silence than you're used to. I want you to sit with that silence and allow your mind to go wherever it needs to go. One of the tenets of mindfulness outside of our practice is nonjudgment. So please know that whatever thoughts you have, are just that -- they're thoughts. That they're not right or wrong, and that they're not your final draft. Allow yourself to sit in, in a little bit of this reflection moment. It'll be short; 3 to 5 minutes, and it'll be worth it.

Maika Leibbrandt 19:06

So let's do something. Because this is different than what we've just run through of unpacking Input, let's do something to create some space between where we've been and where we're going with this practice. Imagine your intentional breath creating a bubble around this reflection, offering just a little bit of insulation for this self-reflection. So sit up tall, as if there was just a breath of space between each of your vertebra, and at your own pace, while I'm quiet, take 3 deep breaths all the way in and all the way out. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 20:01

Here we are in a space of self-reflection. What have you done today that was good? What are you proud of? Since you woke up this morning, how many things can you name that were great? We're not looking for monumental. Probably nothing anyone outside of your own brain would even notice. If you exercised, what were some good moments of your performance? If you made a meal, what was a "micro-win" as you executed that task? If you let yourself sleep in and rest or offered something to someone else, what was good in those exchanges? I'll give you a moment. I'll be silent. And I invite you, in your mind or on paper if you like, to list as many things as you can that you have done well today. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 21:26

Now let's narrow a bit. What are 3 things you're proud of today? Out of all those you were just able to name, maybe 3 is narrowing; maybe 3 is expanding, based on where your brain went. But I invite you to meet me at 3. Three things that you're proud of today. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 21:56

How did your own talents or strengths show up in these three microvictories? ... How soon can you plan to do these things again? ... So often, we think excellence has to be loud or momentous. But in this practice, we're building your reflection skill -- your ability to notice, to actively receive and capture those positive interactions throughout your day.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:45

Usually, when we think about strengths-based interventions, they're not drastic; at least, not to anyone but the person doing them. They're made of small changes in the way we approach a challenge that are more in tune to our natural rhythms of thought and feeling and behavior. And if we're going to actively learn about what these are, you have to practice putting our ear to the ground during moments of success. I should be able to ask you to do this hourly, to ask you to name at least 3 great aspects of your performance every hour on the hour.

Maika Leibbrandt 23:26

For now, just focus again on the 3 things you've done well today. And in honor of these 3, I invite you to seal this practice with 3 more slow, deep breaths. .. And that's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 24:02

You must have been reading my mind because I've been -- since, since March, been really focusing on the idea of these micromoments and how much they matter. You know, on a flight from L.A. to New York, an aircraft will make some 10,000 course corrections on autopilot during its time, before it gets there, right -- instead of one big, major one. Just before -- 9 days ago, I went out in the yard and planted a few grass seeds; like I had some bare spots. And little tiny spots took me about 5 minutes. I came back -- when I came back from, from vacation this last weekend, they'd grown. Like little tiny spots filled in those places.

Jim Collison 24:39

And it's these moments, right, it's these little moments where you don't -- I didn't seed the whole lawn, I didn't, right, I just filled in a few spots. When I came back -- and I'd actually kind of forgot; that's the kind of the best part, right, you kind of forget. And you're like, Oh, well that's right. I did that. And there the grass was growing, just filling in those spots in, and I think in our, in our strengths journey oftentimes, it's the little, it's the little things that matter. It's the little moments of using those strengths in those times, using for success, right?

Jim Collison 25:10

I just -- gosh, I just love this; this is such a great one, Maika. Thanks for -- you said it was gonna be good. I never doubt you. That one is good. I think these, these little moments matter. And I could tell, over the last 2 weeks, I've been really busy, haven't been able to get outside. And I could tell in, in the landscaping, I hadn't been out there because for the last 4 or 5 weeks, I've gone out and done a little bit every day, instead of these big moments. I just go and do a little bit every day. And man, I could tell. I was, I was, I'd stopped doing it. And I could tell. And I was like, Wow, that's interesting how just in a 2 weeks that can kind of get out of hand. So a great reminder.

Jim Collison 25:48

Speaking of reminders, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to, really the -- I think the best way to log in. Takes you right to your strengths dashboard inside of Access. Log down, you can access all your reports that way. Available Try it out today. If you want to follow us in any way, of course you can subscribe here on YouTube if you're watching us there in the -- if you're listening to us as a podcast, maybe you already have, but share this with a friend. You know, we almost never say that. But have you shared the podcast yet? Maybe you haven't; maybe that's the microchange that you can make today is take a moment, find a friend who has Input, share it with them. Whether they've taken the assessment or not, it'll speak to them. And so a great opportunity to get that done as well. If you have questions you can send us an email: And then don't forget, join us on our Facebook group: Lots of great resources for you out there as well. If you want to do it on LinkedIn, you can, you can just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and that'll get us there. Maika, we never talk about Instagram, but it's getting more and more popular. How do they follow you on it?

Maika Leibbrandt 26:52

Follow me @strengthstalk. You'll see -- this season we've been doing something called "Compliments From Your Team," where we look at every single theme during the week that we do our live show and offer just a short, succinct compliment that somebody could give you for having that team -- or having that theme on your team.

Jim Collison 27:08

And Reilly's doing a bang-up job of the new CliftonStrengths on Instagram as well, so you can follow that. I want to thank you for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for the midshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030